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Thursday 20 February 2003

Ted Turner and The Media

A New York Times story today portrays Ted Turner as a nut. Now, this isn’t much of a surprise to anyone who’s paid the least bit of attention to Mr. Turner, but the article further seems to hint at the possibility that Turner himself was responsible for at least some of the disorder that’s plagued AOL Time Warner since the merger.

To AOL Time Warner’s top executives, Mr. Turner’s loud and often-changing views have become a difficult fact of life. He is a constant center of speculation and attention, exposing internal disputes to the public, stirring up news coverage about soap operas in executive suites, and rattling the company’s stock. Richard D. Parsons, chief executive of AOL Time Warner, has worked hard to keep Mr. Turner involved, calling him “my man,” “Uncle Ted,” and “brilliant” at the television business. But other executives and directors say they regard him with a mixture of admiration and exasperation, and some roll their eyes at his quicksilver moods.

Over at the Washington Post, though, they’re still happy to print Turner’s blasts (scroll down to the bottom) without comment, even when he seemingly can’t get the name of AOLTW’s chairman right:

We really feel for former gazillionaire Ted Turner, whose shares of AOL Time Warner have plunged in value and turned him into a mere zillionaire. “I’m hoping to recoup some of my losses with this movie,” Turner told us cheerfully at Monday night’s premiere party for “Gods and Generals,” his 3 1/2-hour Civil War epic. “I hate incompetence,” the Mouth from the South added. “I always thought the rule of business was: Buy low, sell high. These people [in AOL Time Warner management] don’t do that. Didn’t they just sell Hughes Electronics for $800 million, when they bought it for something like $1.5 billion?” As for rumors that new Chairman Richard Parsons might spin off the troubled AOL division, Turner said: “Perkins? Perkins? I hope Perkins doesn’t spin it off. I hope he sells it for a good price!”

Oh, and that AOL-Time Warner merger that Turner thinks was such a colossally bad idea? Turner had 100 million shares of Time Warner at the time, and he voted them in favor of the merger — “with as much or more excitement and enthusiasm,” he said at the time, “as I did on that night when I first made love some 42 years ago.”

Posted by tino at 21:44 20.02.03
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